St. Louis Park is suspending contract deer killings outside of the Westwood Nature Center after a January incident in which a hunter hired by the city shot a deer dead in Minneapolis.
Since 1994, St. Louis Park has hired contract shooters for regular winter hunts in the Westwood Nature Center in an attempt to keep the city’s deer population to about a couple dozen souls.
Residents have long expressed concerns about ethical implications of hunting and, when the city decided to expand the hunts to residential neighborhoods last year, it received additional criticism over the safety of shooting live rounds near private homes.
In mid-July, the city council directed city staff to look into options for managing the city’s herd without killing deer.
But at a Monday work session, some council members were dissatisfied that the staff’s proposals didn’t go beyond notifying property owners when “deer removal efforts” would be undertaken nearby.
“I’m not seeing any discussion about shooting down into valleys, no discussion on using the disintegrating slugs, no discussion on use of contractors, I don’t see any discussion of the potential use of bow and arrow,” council member Jake Spano said. “I’m not comfortable continuing shooting deer in densely populated urban areas until those questions are answered.”
The council will revert to its original 1994 program of only shooting deer inside the Westwood Hills Nature Center.
“We can handle safety in Westwood,” police chief John Luse said, noting that safety “is a problem in densely populated urban areas, and it’s also a problem if people choose to exercise their right to civil disobedience.”